Tips for Creating Agile Teams

Tips for Creating Agile Teams

Tips for Creating Agile Teams

Creating an agile team is more or less considered as a must for today’s entrepreneur, assuming you have a small, bootstrapped business. As global trends show, more and more successful businesses follow lean startup model methodology; therefore, creating an agile company and adding additional layers of flexibility and responsiveness to your team structure can really boost your results. Luckily, it’s not all that difficult to create an effective organization. Following are a couple of neat tricks you can resort to in order to add agile in front of your team.

All-round players

So, you’re small, you’re bootstrapped, you have lots of things on your mind, with little time and limited manpower. Hmm, this really seems like mission impossible. Things are lot easier if you have well-rounded players on your team, because the agile way of doing things is that everyone can step in anytime and fill in the shoes of a work colleague. There is no such thing as “not my job,” or “I’m not getting paid to do this.” In order for your team to be agile and effective, you have to select a qualified and proactive roster of players who will gladly work on new projects in order to learn new things and develop themselves further. Slow-moving-elephant corporate structures are outdated and long ago foregone. Forget about that mentality and adapt your company to new trends and models.

Guidance

If everyone are capable of doing nearly everything it still doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they like, whenever they like it. Proper guidance is the key for keeping your team happy, productive and on-point. Don’t simply issue out orders and assigning tasks, try to help people feel like they all have an equal opportunity to do what they like and encourage them to volunteer for upcoming tasks. This way they won’t feel like somebody is getting special treatment if the team leader assigns easier tasks to him or her, nor they will feel less valued if the team leader constantly assigns tasks to the same group of employees.

Outsource wisely

I’m sure we all must agree on this one here – no matter how much experience we have, no matter how much versatile we are – we can never know it all. So, for certain projects that you simply don’t have adequate manpower at-hand, don’t hesitate to call in mercenaries. And yes, by saying this we actually mean outsourcing certain parts of the projects to third parties. For example, if you lead a group of first class developers and you lack web and graphic designers on your team, just go ahead and bring a designer or two on board temporarily. I like this design team in Boston if you are in need of first class designers. Oh yeah, and one more thing – always remember to treat third parties as part of your own team. Don’t forget, they also hustle like you, and may not have as much experience working in an agile manner. Work together on this!

Long meetings are in the past

Conference calls, going through KPIs and why targets are not met, demanding feedback, proposing new ways of doing things (when things actually work already)…those are part of the past! Instead of nurturing the outdated corporation model of scheduling hours of team meetings every week, think of letting the team go with the flow. Allow them to learn to solicit feedback when they need it, and collaborate with others to solve problems. One brief “stand-up” (yes, where everyone stands up, so that the meeting moves quickly) meeting daily (no more than 15 minutes) will allow everyone to get on the same page, and a single weekly meeting can help your team stay on top of tasks as well as the bigger picture.

If your employees are overwhelmed by reporting and project administration, agile allows them to let them to do what they do best. And, if there really happens to be something urgent, you can always schedule a meeting. Your team will be more than happy to attend, as they will know that it’s going to be something important.

Never stop innovating

This is by far maybe the most crucial thing to understand: In order to get along in marketing, you should never really stop innovating. You should never be afraid of abandoning work habits and all the projects that you’ve been working on for past few years if such a situation arises. That’s what you need agile team for, and that’s what agile teams actually do. If you are able to step in instantly and step out just the same – you can consider yourself agile. No rest for the wicked I guess!

 

About the Author: Hellen McAdams is the chief strategist at Marketee.rs. She loves a good digital marketing strategy, and isn’t afraid to ask questions everyday to keep up with the industry’s trends. If you have any comments or questions, shoot her a question at @hellen_mcadams.

Hiring Interns Cost More Than You Think

Hiring Interns Cost More Than You Think

Hiring Interns Cost More Than You Think

Hiring an intern can seem like a win-win situation. You get cheap labor for handling your social media, and the candidates for your internship are likely to be digital natives. On top of that, you get the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with helping another person learn and gain experience that may help him or her secure a high-paying job one day. Before you jump for joy at your free or super cheap social media intern prospects, consider that there is a dark side to this arrangement. It’s highly likely your interns cost more than you originally thought they would.

Why Hiring Interns Costs More Than You Think

There are a few ways a social media intern may cost you money rather than help increase your profits. First, the very thing that makes them so cheap—lack of experience—can translate into lost dollars for you. You’ll either spend time training your intern, a job that can prove ongoing, or you’ll need to pay someone else much more experienced and costly to do so. Then there’s the cost of supervising the intern since you can’t let someone with absolutely no experience just take your social media ball and run with it with absolutely no oversight. That’s a recipe for disaster. However, the most-costly aspects of hiring a social media intern may be the most difficult to measure. These include the opportunities missed, the followers lost, and the slowed growth you may experience because your intern doesn’t know what he or she is doing.

hiring interns

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Social media is so much more than putting up a great pic on Instagram. There is strategy, data, analytics, measuring ROI, and more to consider and implement. In most cases, a social media intern simply isn’t experienced enough to handle these aspects. And when you want social media marketing to be a viable part of your marketing (and who doesn’t?), you need someone qualified to do the job.

Here’s what to look for in a social media manager:

Experience with social media marketing

It is critical that the person you choose has experience with social media marketing, including the use of social media ads and a range of tools used for analyzing data, social listening, and streamlining efforts. While passion for social media and a desire to learn can go a long way here, it’s critical to keep in mind that accepting passion and learning ability in lieu of experience will cost you money.

An analytical mind

Posting whatever happens to catch your attention is fine when it comes to a personal social media account. Your business, however, will need a sound social media strategy, which will need to be tweaked, updated, and sometimes altogether changed as you go along. There is also data to analyze and ROI to measure. You’ll need a social media manager skilled with handling these aspects of the job.

Passion, drive, and curiosity

The person you choose as your social media manager should have a passion for using social media tools and platforms to market a business. It’s not enough to love using social media to share personal updates and images of grumpy cats. This person needs to love taking what’s available and molding it into an engaging experience for your target audience. Not only that, but your social media manager should have the drive to keep going when results are not as hoped and to look for ways to tweak and change things to better suit your business and your audience. Curiosity is important too as the social media arena is constantly changing. You’ll need someone interested in new opportunities and ways to make your business stand out online.

Graphic manipulation ability

Social media is incredibly visual and growing more so every day. You’ll need someone who has skill with manipulating graphics to create images that are eye-catching for your audience. In some cases, your manager will only need to source and edit graphics, but in others, you’ll need him or her to take your original images and turn them into something that represents your brand in the best possible light.

Customer service skills

More and more, customers are reaching out via social media for customer service. Ideally, your social media manager will have customer service experience and the mindset that the customers come first. You’ll need someone with the experience and desire to put the best face on your brand, responding quickly to questions and complaints, determining which issues are best moved offline, and following through in a timely manner.

An understanding of content marketing

Your social media manager should have an understanding of how content marketing works, the different types of content, and where and when to use each type of content. He or she should also have insight into your particular audience’s content preferences. The ideal candidate should have basic writing ability (decent grammar and the ability to get a point across clearly) and a basic knowledge of SEO.

Take the time to consider whether an intern is the right person to handle your social media campaigns. Make sure you are choosing interns with your eyes wide open since they will likely cost you money rather than help you save it. Choosing the right person for the job is critical to your success in all aspects of business, and social media marketing is no exception.

 

 

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The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’re like many of us, you’re probably deciding that this year will be different. 2017 will bring a better you, and perhaps a better business too. That’s right. You can and should make resolutions for your business. But before you get off to the races, preparing your long list of business resolutions, we want you to know that one resolution stands out in importance. It involves social media but doesn’t focus on crafting more posts or finding more followers.

This year, resolve to build a community

If you’re marketing to a target audience, you’re doing this social media thing all wrong. Your goal should be to build a community of people engaged with your brand. This means giving your fans a voice and providing them with information they will find helpful. Solve their problems; don’t just sell your product or service.

How Will You Do This?

Provide Great Customer Service

Anyone can sell products or services. Anyone can ask their target audience to pay attention to and share their messages, but not everyone can build a community. To accomplish this, you have to provide great customer service. To build a community, you need to give your audience a reason to care about you and want to not only pay attention to what’s going on with your business but also stick around after that initial purchase. You can do this by showing that you care about your audience via top-notch customer service.

1. Combine delivery of customer service via social media and traditional methods. Your customers should have options when it comes to reaching you, and they should never feel forced into using one method of contact over the other.

2. Kick the automation to the curb. Customers hate, hate, hate having to struggle with an automated system when they need help. While there are situations in which automation is helpful, you won’t make a community member out a customer who can’t get help from a live person.

3. Train your customer service reps well. They should know your business and its policies inside and out. And most importantly, they should truly care to help your customers. If they seem bored, annoyed, or clueless, you haven’t a prayer of converting customers into community members.

4. Develop a method for monitoring and tracking customer service contact. This will help you to improve your company’s customer service going forward and head off reputation-damaging problems before they become mountains instead of molehills.

Share Relevant, Helpful Information

Yes, you have products or services of interest to your audience, but what else do you have to offer? To build a community, you have to provide relevant, helpful information, not just once but all the time. This gives your audience a reason to come back repeatedly and consume your content. It gives them a reason to share with others and even provide their own relevant, helpful information. Without this, you are just like every other company with something to sell. You’re just adding to the social media noise.

1. Find out what your audience needs. You have your products and services covered. Now, focus on who your audience members are, what drives them and what they want from life.

2. Share content and messages that meet your followers’ needs. You’ve identified their needs, so now go ahead and meet them by sharing meaty, valuable content that speaks to those needs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to create every piece of content you share. You’ll want to provide a mix of original and curated content to your audience.

3. Don’t just share content; have conversations. Communities aren’t built by talking at people. Instead, engage in real conversations, sharing ideas back and forth, asking questions, and offering suggestions. Be genuinely interested and fully responsive. Your followers will know if you’re faking it.

Give Your Community a Voice

Your followers have stories to tell about their lives, about their interests, and about your brand. Give them a platform and a purpose for sharing what’s important to them with others and you. Their shared stories and experiences will build and nurture a sense of community among your followers and support an emotional connection with your brand.

1. Provide a safe place for your followers to share user-generated content. Take genuine interest in what they post, comment on it and share it. This content will interest other followers, inspire them to engage as well, and build the sense of knowing each other and being part of a community.

2. Encourage a range of user-generated content. Of course, videos and photos are among the most compelling types of user-generated content, but personal stories really hit the mark as well. Inspire your followers to share their personal stories by sharing some of your own and by commenting on and showing enthusiasm for the stories your followers share. This not only stimulates an emotional connection with your brand and a sense of belonging but also gives each person who shares a stake in supporting the community.

3. Let your community members sell for you. Building a community takes the focus off selling, but that doesn’t mean selling won’t happen anyway. Your community members’ content becomes part of your brand’s story, and as your community grows, so will your users’ reviews of your products and services. Likewise, many of your followers-turned-community-members will become brand evangelists, telling your story and drawing prospects to your business.

Most importantly, Build Relationships

Social media should be about more than just broadcasting your promotions and building up an impressive number of followers. It should be about more than just making sales, and that’s why your emphasis should be on community building this year. Without a personal connection to your brand, customers are likely to jump at the chance to patronize your competitors whenever they offer sales, announce new products, or simply shout for their attention. However, by developing relationships with your customers, and encouraging your customers to develop relationships with others in your community, you build a loyal customer base that will translate into more sales and steady business growth.

Start 2017 off on the right foot by focusing on building a community. With each step you take toward community building, and each relationship you develop and nurture, you’ll enjoy long-term benefits for your business.

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

“How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World” is co-authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland”

With the majority of adult Internet users spending time on social media sites, it’s no surprise that social media is such an important way to get your audience’s attention and connect with those in need of your products and services. But if there is one thing many businesses have learned the hard way, it’s that talking at your audience simply doesn’t work. That sort of strategy (or lack thereof) results in your message becoming a part of the online background noise.

How to Understand Customers in a Digital World

To make the most of social media and really reach your audience, you need to do three things: understand who your audience is, understand what your audience wants, and develop ways to connect with your audience. Sound like a tough job? No worries! Here are some tips to help you get the job done.

1. Use Google Analytics

Install analytics software. Most people use Google Analytics, but there are other options too. Using Google Analytics, check out your social media statistics. Go to Acquisition – Social to find out which social networks are bringing traffic to your site, how users finding you via social media navigate through your site and much more. This information alone will help you focus your social media strategy.

2. Check Social Analytics

Next, look at the analytics provided by all the social media sites where you are active. Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Pinterest Analytics all provide information on your social audience. The depth of this information depends on the site, but you can usually see where your audience members are located, what their backgrounds and interests are, and which social media updates made them respond and share. Once you know that, it’s easy to use this information to decide on engaging social media content.

3. Identify Your Followers

If you want a holistic picture of your social media audience, then you’ll need an external dashboard tool. There are dozens to choose from at various price points. See if the data you collect matches your existing customer personas. If there’s a mismatch, then it’s time to revisit your marketing strategy. If there isn’t, then congratulations! That means you’re probably getting it right.

4. Find Their Influencers

One important thing to understand is who influences your social audience because you can also target those influencers for greater reach when you want to share your content and message. A good tool for finding influencers is Klear (formerly Twtrland) which allows you to see who your followers listen to. You can also find social media influencers with a Buzzsumo Pro account.

5. Listen to Your Fans

Use social listening software to find out when your fans and followers mention your brand and what they say about you. You can also discover what their hot button topics are and weave those into your social media strategy. Use tools like Buzzsumo to find hot content and Klout to find shareable content on the topics that interest them.

6. Pay Attention to Mobile Stats Too

Did you know that more than half of all Facebook users only access the site from mobile devices? Keep an eye on mobile analytics on all sites, so you don’t miss the moment when most of your customers go mobile too. That’s bound to happen at some point, which means that your social strategy will have to include mobile-friendly content.

7. CRM Your Inbox

Rapportive, which puts a mini-CRM tool right in your inbox, is a very helpful tool that is owned by LinkedIn. When you install the browser extension, you can immediately see whether the person who has emailed you is connected to you on LinkedIn, a snapshot of recent roles and – if they also use Rapportive – any social media accounts they have connected to their profile.

Once you have that information, it’s easy to visit those other sites and find out more about your prospect’s online activity. That means you can follow them on social media and have conversations on the topics that interest them.

8. Create Lists Wisely

If you want to go direct to the source, then use the features built into Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to connect with customers and prospects in a useful way.

If you want to keep your home stream uncluttered on Facebook, interest lists let you keep tabs on people and pages you like, without having to like them. Full instructions are on the “interest lists” page.

You can do something similar on Twitter by setting up themed lists. In addition to setting up lists of customers and prospects, I suggest you set up lists of people tweeting about the topics that interest your customers and prospects. That gives you content to share with them and deepens the connection. For best results, keep your lists short. That also goes for Google+, where you can set up circles in the same way.

When you’ve set up your lists or circles, check in a couple of times a week to join the conversation and find items to share.

9. Use LinkedIn

Whatever business you are in, there’s a fair chance that your customers, prospects and potential partners will be on LinkedIn. You should be too, because that’s where they’ll look for you. Take the time to fill out your profile properly. That means including a profile photo, a cover photo, your most recent jobs and some portfolio items. Then scope out relevant groups, but not too many, because you need time to participate in them. This really works for getting the attention of prospective customers and bringing business your way. It is surprisingly easy it is to build relationships through group discussions.

Use the data you gather and the tools at your disposal to understand what your audience members are saying, what they need, and what really drives them. Then, use this information to develop strategies and content that speak to their interests, make a connection, and encourage engagement.